Firehouse Challenge: Cranberry sauce

Growing up, I assumed that cranberries grew in the shape of a can. I am not alone.  When I was nine, my Aunt Judy made cranberry relish from whole berries and nothing was the same again.

Of all the classic side dishes, cranberry relish is by the far the least challenging. If you can open a can, you can make it from scratch; it’s a pour and stir operation. 

Homemade Cranberry Relish

My family recipe calls for adding in some kind of alcohol as a flavoring, such as port, a sweet red wine or Cointreau. But frankly, if you don’t have it on hand, don’t rush out and buy a whole bottle. Just simmering some berries with sugar, water and a bit of orange juice will suffice beautifully, especially when enhanced with some cinnamon,  ginger or Chinese five-spice.  Around the holidays, you can find whole cranberries on sale. I based my cost per serving on $2.39 per bag. 

Process: Measure out sugar, orange juice and other ingredients. Pour into the pan, stir with the cranberries and simmer for about 20 minutes. (See my recipe here.)
Active time:  4 minutes
Total time:  20 minutes
Cost per serving: 41 cents 
Ingredients: CRANBERRIES, SUGAR, ORANGE JUICE, ORANGE LIQEUR, GRATED ORANGE ZEST, CANDIED GINGER 
 

Canned Jellied Cranberry Sauce

It’s quite straightforward: open, slice, serve. Worth noting: corn syrup is listed twice on the label. 

Process: Open the can, pour onto a serving dish, slice
Active time
: 4 minutes
Total time: 4 minutes 
Cost per serving: 44 cents
Ingredients: CRANBERRIES, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CORN SYRUP 

The Result

Homemade cranberry relish: 7
Canned relish: 0

Certainly, there are fans of the sliced-from-a-can variety cranberry relish, but the homemade relish was a big hit with the firemen.

  • “The difference is huge. I don’t even like cranberry relish normally, and I’m going back for seconds.”
  • “I can totally taste the orange in this.” 
  • “This isn’t in the same league with the stuff in the can. I mean, I actually like this.”
  • “It’s sweet, but in a complex way.”  

 

 

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About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry" and "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School." Her third book, "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good" will be published in April 2014. All are published by Viking/Penguin.

Comments

  1. I loved this challenge. You not only compared the taste but the time commitment, cost and we can follow your recipes. I don’t know why anyone would use boxed/canned after reading these posts. Bonus points for feeding the firemen, I’m sure they loved being involved!

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